News and Recent Publications

Events calendar | Press releases | 2011-2017 News archive 


  • WEI-UNFPA Guidelines book cover

    November 30, 2018. WEI and the United Nations Population Fund announce a new publication. Women and Young Persons with Disabilities: Guidelines for Providing Rights-Based and Gender-Responsive Services to Address Gender-Based Violence and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. Funded by the Government of Spain and officially launched on November 28, 2018, these guidelines aim to provide practical and concrete guidelines for making GBV and SRHR services more inclusive of and accessible to women and young persons with disabilities and for targeting interventions to meet their disability-specific needs.  

    Read more

  • Sept. 24, 2018 WEI, the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic, and Amnesty International submit amicus brief to the New York Court of Appeals about the right of women with disabilities to be mothers

    In July 2018, Women Enabled International, the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, and Amnesty International submitted an amicus brief to the Court of Appeals of the State of New York addressing the rights of women with disabilities to parent and to be free from discrimination. Harmful stereotypes that women with disabilities are incapable of parenting can unduly influence judicial determinations of custody, placing women with disabilities at higher risk of having their children taken away. The amicus brief, which was submitted in support of a woman with an intellectual disability whose newborn child was removed from her custody before she was discharged from the hospital, details the international human rights standards on disability-related discrimination and discusses what countries must do to respect the right to family for both women with disabilities and their children.

    WEI - Lacee Amicus Final Filed - July 2018.pdf

  • Preliminary Submission to the UN Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice on Women with Disabilities and Deprivation of Liberty August 18, 2018

    This preliminary submission highlights the forms, causes, and consequences of detention faced by women with disabilities, including those that are unique to and experienced disproportionately by them. This submission highlights in particular the disproportionate detention of women with disabilities in jails and institutions, as well as the isolation and dependency women with disabilities experience in their families that can also constitute a form of detention. The submission highlights the causes of this detention, including discrimination and stereotypes about women with disabilities, as well as the consequences, including increased risk of violence, forced medical treatment, and denials of access to justice. Finally, the submission analyzes some important disability rights law surrounding the right to be free from detention based on disability and the right to live in the community. This report was presented to the Working Group at its meeting in New York on July 25, 2018, and will be used to inform the Working Group's next thematic report, to be finalized in early 2019.

    WEI Preliminary Submission to WGDAW on Deprivation of Liberty and Women with Disabilities July 18, 2018.pdf

    WEI Preliminary Submission to WGDAW on Deprivation of Liberty and Women with Disabilities July 18, 2018.docx


  • July 31, 2018 ONE.pl and WEI Submission to the CRPD Committee for its Review of Poland

    This submission to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee), drafted by Association for Women with Disabilities ONE.pl and WEI, addresses human rights violations against women and girls with disabilities in Poland. These violations include discrimination, stereotypes, exclusion from public participation, and lack of data collection; higher rates of gender-based violence; sexual and reproductive rights violations including forced sterilization and abortion as well as lack of access to respectful maternal health care, contraception, and abortion services and comprehensive sexuality education; discrimination in education and employment; and denial of legal capacity. This submission also outlines how Poland's reservations to the CRPD impact women and girls with disabilities and violate the object and purpose of the treaty, calling on Poland to withdraw those reservations. Read the publications:

    ONEpl and WEI Submission to CRPD Committee Review of Poland July 31, 2018.pdf

    ONEpl and WEI Submission to CRPD Committee Review of Poland July 31, 2018.docx


  • July 31, 2018 WEI and South Africa Partners Submission to the CRPD Committee for its Review of South Africa

    WEI partnered with eight local organizations - Cape Mental Health, Centre for Human Rights at The University of Pretoria, Epilepsy South Africa, Khuluma Family Counselling, Lawyers for Human Rights, Port Elizabeth Mental Health, SA Federation for Mental Health, and The Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children.  The report included anecdotal evidence collected from four local mental health organizations. This submission describes human rights violations against women and girls with disabilities in South Africa, including failure to take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development, advancement, and empowerment of women and girls with disabilities or affirmative measures to address discrimination; inaccessible justice systems and procedures; lack of accessible gender-based violence services and other supports and services for women and girls with disabilities and their families and caregivers; institutionalization, violence in institutions, and deficient support and oversight of institutions and other facilities for persons with disabilities; violations of women with disabilities' right to make their own reproductive choices and their right to legal capacity; lack of comprehensive sexuality education and discriminatory attitudes of healthcare providers; and lack of data collection disaggregated by disability and gender.

    Through this submission, our organizations made the following key recommendations:

      • Take specific measures to address the discrimination experienced by women and girls with disabilities and to empower women and girls with disabilities, especially black women with disabilities. 
      • Improve access to justice for women and girls with disabilities by amending laws and policies and providing training to justice system actors. 
      • Combat abuse and violence against women and girls with disabilities by ensuring gender-based violence services are accessible and available in disadvantaged areas; by developing inclusive awareness raising programs; by conducting research on the availability of programs and monitoring programs; and by investing in preventative gender-based violence programs. 
      • Amend laws that compromise South African women with disabilities' right to make their own reproductive choices and their right to legal capacity. 
      • Ensure that comprehensive sexuality education programs are available and accessible to women and girls with disabilities. 
      • Collect data on the issues that most impact women and girls with disabilities and ensure that women and girls with disabilities are included in all data collected about women and in all data collected about persons with disabilities.

    WEI et al South Africa CRPD Committee Shadow Report Submission - July 31, 2018.pdf

    WEI et al South Africa CRPD Committee Shadow Report Submission - July 31, 2018.docx

     

  • June 22, 2018 WEI Statement on U.S. Withdrawal from the Human Rights Council 

    On June 19, 2018, the current government of the United States of America (U.S.) chose to withdraw its membership from the Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental body of the United Nations (U.N.) that is responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. Women Enabled International (WEI), a U.S.-based human rights organization dedicated to advancing the rights of women and girls with disabilities worldwide, is deeply concerned about this decision, as it further illustrates a declining commitment to human rights, including the rights of women and girls with disabilities, by the U.S. government.

    "The Human Rights Council is not perfect, but it is one of the most important forums for discussing and addressing human rights violations around the world," said Stephanie Ortoleva, Executive Director and founding President of WEI. “Although the U.S.’s human rights record is flawed, it has historically been a powerful voice for a range of rights within the Human Rights Council. Its absence from the Council will leave a significant gap that will ultimately threaten the rights of all people, including women and girls with disabilities, worldwide.”
     
    Women and girls with disabilities in the U.S. face unique and disproportionate violations of their rights, due to both their gender and disability, among other factors. As compared to men with disabilities and nondisabled women, they endure higher rates of violence including sexual violence, receive lower levels of education, are more likely to be unemployed or receive lower wages, and face discrimination in access to health care. WEI highlighted these issues in a short report to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights before his country visit to the U.S. in 2017. This Special Rapporteur introduced his findings from this visit in report to the Human Rights Council on June 22, and he has expressed concern that the U.S. would not be present at the Council to react to those findings.

    "There is already a steadily worsening human rights situation for many groups--including women and girls with disabilities--in the U.S.," said Amanda McRae, WEI's Director of U.N. Advocacy. “When a country engages in good faith with the U.N., this can help it ensure the human rights of all people, at home and abroad. But it is clear that the current U.S. government is afraid of being held accountable.”

    Since withdrawing from the Human Rights Council, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, has blamed non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working to advance human rights—including many based in the U.S.—for the decision to leave. This reaction further illustrates a significant step back for human rights in the U.S., as the U.S. has historically been a strong advocate for freedom of assembly and speech worldwide, said WEI. Ambassador Haley has also called the report by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights “misleading and politically-motivated.”

    “Every time the U.S. government refuses to acknowledge or take responsibility for the human rights violations it is committing, we should all step back and take notice,” said Ortoleva. “Blaming its bad decisions on human rights NGOs—those fighting to better the lives of people around the world—means that the U.S. government has reached a new low.”

    For press or media inquiries, please contact: Amanda McRae, Director of U.N. Advocacy, at a.mcrae@womenenabled.org.

    Download this statement:

    WEI Statement on U.S. Withdrawal from the Human Rights Council.pdf

    WEI Statement on U.S. Withdrawal from the Human Rights Council.docx

  • June 21, 2018 WEI and Women's Link Worldwide present to the Colombian Constitutional Court/WEI y Women’s Link Worldwide presentamos ante la Corte Constitucional de Colombia. 

    In May 2018, Women Enabled International and Women’s Link Worldwide presented to the Colombian Constitutional Court an amicus curiae brief in a case discussing legal grounds for abortion, including on the ground of fetal impairment. The amicus addresses three main points: 1) the grounds on which abortion is decriminalized in Colombia constitute the minimum core necessary to protect women’s fundamental rights, 2) Colombia’s obligations to ensure access to safe and legal abortion under international human rights law, and 3) the barriers that Colombian women face in accessing legal abortion.

    En mayo de 2018, Women Enabled International y Women’s Link Worldwide presentamos ante la Corte Constitucional de Colombia un amicus curiae en un caso que trata de las causales para acceder a aborto legal, incluso en los casos de malformaciones fetales. El escrito aborda tres puntos: 1) las causales de despenalización del aborto en Colombia constituyen un núcleo duro de protección a los derechos fundamentales de las mujeres, 2) las obligaciones del Estado colombiano frente al acceso seguro y legal al aborto en las causales, según el derecho internacional de derechos humanos, y 3) los obstáculos que enfrentan las mujeres colombianas para acceder al aborto legal y seguro.

    WEI WLW Amicus to Colombian Constitutional Court/WEI WLW amicus para la Corte Constitucional de Colombia.pdf (only available in Spanish/sólo disponible en español)

  • June 15, 2018 Election Results: States Elect Women with Disabilities to CRPD and CEDAW Committees 

    In June, States elected women with disabilities to serve as members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee) and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee). These expert groups monitor State implementation of important human rights treaties addressing the rights of women and persons with disabilities. 

    Six new women to serve on CRPD Committee
    On June 12, States elected six women, including five women with disabilities, to fill a total of nine open seats on the CRPD Committee. Prior to this election, only one woman served on this 18-member Committee, which monitors implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities around the world.

    Women from Australia, Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia, Mexico, and the Republic of Korea were elected to the Committee. In addition to these six women, two current members of the Committee from Lithuania and Nigeria were re-elected, and one new member from Switzerland was also elected. WEI congratulates all of these new and re-elected members.

    Newly-elected members will take up their positions in 2019. At that time, women will represent one-third of the total membership of the CRPD Committee, an important step towards gender parity and towards ensuring that issues affecting women and girls with disabilities are systematically included in the Committee's work.

    For more information about WEI's work to inform the CRPD Committee elections, please visit: https://womenenabled.org/crpd-questionnaire.html

    Ana Pelaez-Narvaez will be first woman with a disability on the CEDAW Committee
    On June 7, States elected Ana Pelaez-Narvaez of Spain to serve on the CEDAW Committee, which monitors women's rights around the world. Although one in five women are persons with disabilities, Ana will be the first woman who identifies as a person with a disability to serve on this 23-member since its first meeting in 1982. Ana's service on the CEDAW Committee will help ensure that women and girls with disabilities are more systematically included in the Committee's important work on women's rights.

    WEI congratulates Ana and all of those elected to the CEDAW Committee on June 7!

    For more information about WEI's work to inform the CEDAW Committee elections, please visit:
    https://womenenabled.org/cedaw-questionnaire.html
  • May 11, 2018 Disability rights groups call on States to increase disability representation on the CEDAW Committee. 
    A coalition of disability rights groups—including Women Enabled International (WEI), the International Disability Alliance (IDA), Spanish National Organisation of the Blind (ONCE), Spanish Committee of Representatives of Persons with Disabilities (CERMI), and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC)—have issued a joint statement calling on States to increase disability diversity on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) by electing Ana Peláez to the Committee. Peláez would be the first woman with a disability to serve on the CEDAW Committee, which monitors the women's rights records of States around the world. Read the statement below and view a video interview with Ana Peláez at the United Nations headquarters (Spanish with English subtitles).

    Joint statement calling for the election of Ana Peláez to the CEDAW committee.pdf

    Joint statement calling for the election of Ana Peláez to the CEDAW committee.docx

     

  • May 10, 2018 WEI Candidate Survey Results for Upcoming UN Treaty Body Elections

    States that have ratified CEDAW and the CRPD—the two international human rights treaties that most directly address the rights of women and girls with disabilities—will soon elect a new set of experts to monitor these treaties. WEI sent out a questionnaire about women and girls with disabilities to all candidates for the CEDAW and CRPD Committees. Check out the results and learn more about these Committees at the links below:

    CEDAW Committee Elections and Candidate Questionnaire Results

    CRPD Committee Elections and Candidate Questionnaire Results

  • April 30, 2018 WEI, Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI),  and Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) Shadow Letter on Nigeria to the Human Rights Committee for its development of a List of Issues in the Absence of a State Report.

    WEI, AWWDI, and LEDAP submitted a shadow letter to the Human Rights Committee for its development of a list of issues on Nigeria, to be used in a future review of Nigeria’s human rights record under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Drawing on particular case examples and analysis of current laws, the letter highlights that, because of their gender and disability, women and girls with disabilities in Nigeria face multiple layers of discrimination and stereotypes about their capabilities. As a result, they are denied access to sexual and reproductive health services, subjected to practices like forced sterilization, forced contraception, or forced abortion, and are more likely to experience gender-based violence. Women and girls with disabilities in Nigeria's conflict zones are also frequently left behind when violence comes to their communities, increasing their risk of experiencing gender-based violence, with little access to justice or services. The shadow letter concludes with several recommendations for questions the Human Rights Committee should include in its list of issues to Nigeria, which the Committee will develop in July 2018.

    WEI AWWDI LEDAP letter to HRC Nigeria List of Issues Submission FINAL.pdf

    WEI AWWDI LEDAP letter to HRC Nigeria List of Issues Submission FINAL.docx

  • April 20, 2018 Women Enabled International, Movimiento Estamos Tod@s en Acción and Mesa de Trabajo en Discapacidad y Derechos Humanos de Córdoba Shadow Letter on Argentina to the CRC Committee

    Carta sombra de Women Enabled International, el Movimiento Estamos Tod@s en Acción y la Mesa de Trabajo en Discapacidad y Derechos Humanos de Córdoba al Comité de los Derechos del Niño


    Women Enabled International (WEI), Movimiento Estamos Tod@s en Acción (META Argentina) and Mesa de Trabajo en Discapacidad y Derechos Humanos de Córdoba jointly submitted a shadow letter on rights violations against girls and adolescents with disabilities in Argentina to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee). This submission focuses specifically on sexual and reproductive health and rights and the right to live free from gender based and sexual violence. The submission also highlights the forced institutionalization of children and adolescents with disabilities in Argentina and the lack of State support for the implementation of the National Mental Health Law. In addition, the submission outlines the obstacles for implementing human rights standards for inclusive education in Argentina and the impact of the denial of the right to social security on children [and adolescents] with disabilities. The shadow letter concludes with several recommendations for the CRC Committee to include in its concluding observations to Argentina following the May 2018 review.  Please note that the submission is written in Spanish.
     
    WEI, el Movimiento Estamos Tod@s en Acción (META Argentina) y la Mesa de Trabajo en Discapacidad y Derechos Humanos de Córdoba presentaron de manera conjunta una carta sombra sobre las violaciones del Estado Argentino a los derechos de niñas y adolescentes con discapacidad al Comité de los Derechos del Niño (el Comité). La carta hace énfasis específicamente en sus derechos y salud sexual y reproductiva y al derecho a vivir libres de violencia sexual y de género. La carta también resalta la persistencia de la institucionalización forzosa de niños, niñas y adolescentes (NNA) con discapacidad en Argentina y la falta de apoyo del Estado para la implementación efectiva de la Ley Nacional de Salud Mental. Adicionalmente, el documento destaca la existencia de obstáculos en la implementación de estándares de derechos humanos sobre educación inclusiva en Argentina y el impacto de la denegación del derecho a la seguridad social de NNA con discapacidad. La carta concluye con varias recomendaciones para que el Comité incluya en sus observaciones finales a Argentina con ocasión de la revisión que tendrá lugar en mayo de 2018.

    META MESA WEI Shadow Letter/Carta sombra CRC Argentina April 19, 2018 (PDF)

    META MESA WEI Shadow Letter/Carta sombra CRC Argentina April 19, 2018 (Word doc)

 

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